Safety and Risk Management

Our Professional Experience and Risk Management

Risk management is a top priority at COR.  Our excellent safety record, expertise, certified instructors, and extensive training all point to our high standards and commitment to the safety of our participants.  Our staff have been designing and instructing courses for more than 20 years in nearly every outdoor environment all over the United States and on 5 continents.  COR Expeditions has put together over 20,000 program days on more than 20 three-week long course and 100 week-long trips without any major incidents.  Our safety protocols are among the best in the nation and we are working to improve them constantly.

COR Expeditions’ professional instructors are highly trained and certified outdoor professionals who work full-time, year-round to maintain and expand their certifications and hone their instructional skills. Each instructor must have a minimum 20 weeks of professional field experience and they hold numerous nationally recognized certifications such as Wilderness First Responder, CPR, avalanche awareness and rescue, rock climbing instruction and rescue, swiftwater rescue, and more.

COR Expeditions is an outreach of Wyoming Catholic College, the only Catholic institution to be accredited by the Association for Experiential Learning (AEE). This accreditation assures that we meet or exceed industry standards with regard to risk management and professionally trained technical staff. In fact, WCC has been recognized by the AEE as being in the top 10% of all outdoor programs, including NOLS and Outward Bound. The safety of our participants, quality of our programming, and professionalism of our staff are of utmost importance to us.

Before every trip, COR staff spend many hours planning and preparing for both subjective and objective hazards.  Subjective hazards are those that are subject to human influence.  For example, fatigue, group dynamics, and personal decision making are all potential subjective hazards that our staff plan and prepare for.  Objective hazards are those that are outside the sphere of human influence: weather, terrain, wildlife, etc. COR instructors do everything that they can to prepare for potential hazards so that they can manage the risk in a safe and professional manner. Our instructors have a very high level of expertise in many different fields, which enables COR Expeditions to provide a variety of different outdoor activities safely. Whether you are kayaking, rock climbing, or backpacking, our instructors have the expertise and experience necessary to competently and safely guide you through these life-changing experiences.

COR Expeditions is highly committed to renewing the hearts of today’s people, and the wilderness is the best place to do this. Operating in such an environment, we make safety our first priority.

Why Bother with Risk?

No endeavor of value is without an element of risk.  Going to school, starting a job, making friends, and trying something new are all risky things to do; even such activities as walking down the street or reading a book have an degree of  risk to them.  A perfectly safe life is a life that is not lived, and nothing of value is gained without something being risked to gain it!

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt  

Here it is important to recognize the difference between real and perceived risks.  Real risk is exactly what it sounds like; it is the actual danger of something bad occurring.  Perceived risk is the level of risk that exists in the mind of a given person.  It is difficult to know if one’s perception of risk matches up with the actual risk of a given situation, but that does not matter.  It takes just as much courage to overcome a perceived risk as it does to overcome real risk.  For example, it is safer to come on a COR trip than it is to drive to the store.  However, when you are about to rappel down a 100 foot cliff or raft class III and VI rapids it feels much more dangerous than driving your car and thus takes more courage to follow through.  It does not matter if perceived risk is greater than the real risk because it takes real courage to overcome them both.  In the end it is perceived risk that is more important because the person who risks more, gains more, even if part of the risk is only in that person’s mind.

If you are comfortable then no growth is taking place.  However, terror is an equally poor stimulus for learning, so we see that learning and growth can only take place in the area between comfort and panic. COR trips are designed to push their participants outside of their comfort zones and challenge them to try new things without causing them to shut down in fear.  The investment of time and energy along with the surrender of a certain amount of security that is necessary to come on a COR trip makes the participants more likely to engage fully in the trip and thus gain more from it.  COR guides strive to challenge participants at a level appropriate to the individual’s level so that students are neither bored nor overly stressed, both of which scenarios deprive the participants of the opportunity to learn.

Pope St. John Paul II reminded us that when Christ came to share the Gospel it was not to bring peace but to “set the world ablaze” with the love of God!  An apt metaphor because fire, while being so essential to our lives that we often do not even notice it, is among the most destructive and dangerous forces on the planet.  Nothing is gained without risk and nothing is risked by a life lived only in comfort and security.  

“The World tells you to be comfortable but I say that you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.” -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI  

The world tells you to be comfortable because it fears the fire that Jesus came to start.  Like Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play, the world says: “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.  Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.  He thinks too much.  Such men are dangerous.” so it tries to get you to live in a padded room wearing a jacket that helps you to hug yourself forever.  The world fears that you might actually become something great so it tries to make you so afraid of discomfort that you do nothing. We do not have to be afraid; God is with us and in the wilderness He speaks to us.